Part 1 MFSRH – 2 problems and a solution? Managing change

Posted 19 Sep 2023

Date: 19 Sep 2023

Author: Lesley Bacon

The MFSRH exam is an essential part of the Faculty’s work, and needs clinicians to volunteer to help set and run the examinations.

However, the exams team is short staffed. New members are always needed, but in these days of work pressures even the keenest find it hard to assist. Part 1 MFSRH is a particular problem as it deals with basic science, leading many senior doctors to worry that they may be out of date.

Lesley BaconRetirement is also a problem, giving up a profession abruptly is not good for the person involved, and could be seen as wasting years of experience.

But put the 2 problems together and there may be a solution.

I retired in a hurry from a consultant post for family reasons, once the crisis was over I was looking to return to work. I became a Faculty Exam Convenor for Part 1 and did locum work for community SRH services near me. Then came COVID, and the locum work vanished during lockdown. Lockdown also triggered another change: we needed to get used to online meetings and examinations. Accepting this was not always easy, responses varied from the enthusiastic to the terrified.

Interestingly, skills gained elsewhere suddenly came to the fore. I was the treasurer and a board member of a (non-medical) charity – gaining some understanding of accounts management and of the workings of the Charity Commission proved very relevant to working with the Faculty. I also set up my own Zoom account, and became reasonably skilled in using it and managing hybrid meetings.

Revisiting basic science, and establishing a standard for the new syllabus that started in 2022, gave the two Part 1 Convenors the chance to update their knowledge, including buying the latest editions of the approved textbooks, and reflecting on the reasons for including basic science in the examination. This was very satisfying, although time consuming (it also needed GMC full registration and an annual appraisal, which may have to be paid for if you are not in clinical work).

The great lesson of the recent few years has been that change is to be accepted and even embraced. Also that a vital part of planning is Plan B, for when it all goes wrong as it occasionally will.

New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of Truth;
Lo, before us gleam her camp-fires! we ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our Mayflower, and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.

From The Present Crisis by James Russell Lowell – mid 19th century

May the Faculty steer boldly through the current tempests of the NHS.

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